The Los Angeles Lakers have proven this year that they don’t need a third star to have a successful season. However, next season is a different story. There have been a lot of injured stars this year and they should return for next season. That means that even if the Lakers win the title this year, they need to try and get better this offseason.
One big name to keep an eye on his Indiana Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo. According to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, the two sides could be parting ways soon:
“I bet they trade him,” one former Eastern Conference executive said, looking ahead to the upcoming offseason.
Oladipo may have his eyes on a potential payday via free agency. He may have every intention of re-signing with Indiana, but the team runs the risk of losing him for nothing once his contract runs out.
Oladipo isn’t in the superstar class but he’s been to two All-Star games and is one of the better defensive players in the NBA. He’s also a capable scorer, though he’s not an elite 3-point shooter.
Lakers to Pursue Oladipo?
Whenever a star player hits the trade market, the Lakers always seem to be involved somehow. In this case, Oladipo might be the best they can do. Per Pincus, Los Angeles is expected to be involved even if they can’t get him to sign a long-term contract:
If Oladipo hits the trade block, look for other teams like the Lakers and Nets to pursue him, even without a long-term commitment.
Adding Oladipo would give the Lakers a certified Big Three. He’s not as good as Kawhi Leonard or even Bradley Beal but he’s a really good player who would fit a need for the team. He’d bring excellent perimeter defense and could score around 18 points a game. That’s the kind of production the team needs.
However, there does appear to be some worry about Oladipo’s health. Pincus pointed out that some executives want nothing to do with the guard:
“I don’t think I would touch him,” a Western Conference executive said. “He doesn’t look healthy.”
He suffered a gruesome injury last season, rupturing his quad tendon, and hasn’t looked the same since. With the Pacers out of the playoffs, it’s going to be really hard for them to convince teams that he will regain All-Star form.
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What Would Oladipo Cost?
An appealing thing about trying to add Oladipo is that he probably wouldn’t cost as much in a trade as other star players. He has an injury history that will scare teams off from offering too much and only having one year left on his contract will hurt his value. It’s not out of the question that Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green and change could get the deal done.
The main problem is paying Oladipo after next season. If he plays at an All-Star level, he’s probably going to get a max offer from somebody. It remains to be seen if the Lakers would be able to do that. If they hope to retain a third-star long-term, they’ll probably need LeBron James to take a pay cut. It’s possible he’d be willing to do so if it meant winning more championships before he retires.
Follow Austin Boyd on Twitter: @austincjboyd